Amidst uproar in Parliament over allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, the government today said relevant factors have been taken into account before allowing foreign retailers to open stores in India, to ensure investors are protected irrespective of who comes to power.
"Government has taken all relevant factors into account, in regard to permitting foreign direct investment (FDI), up to 51 per cent, in multi-brand retail trade," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said in a written reply to the
He said FDI policy is incorporated in the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or issue of security by a person resident outside India) Regulations, 2000.
"FDI is made in accordance with the investment regime in force at a point in time, which can normally not be amended with retrospective effect," he added.
Sharma was replying to a specific question on whether the Centre has considered "the possibility that government in a state may have differing views on this policy decision, which may create a situation wherein established investors may have to pull out in case of a change in government".
The minister also also said the policy in the sector is "only an enabling policy" and the state governments are free to take their own decisions in regard to its implementation.
Establishment of the retail sales outlets is to be undertaken in compliance with applicable state/union territory laws/regulations, such as the Shops and Establishments Act, he added.
The much-talked about debate on FDI in retail in the Lok Sabha yesterday saw SP and BSP joining the Opposition in slamming the government over it but remaining ambivalent on voting today even as UPA ally DMK vowed not to rock the boat
despite its opposition to the policy.
In a reply to an another question on the issue, Sharma said intensive consultations with stakeholders, including traders' associations, consumers organisations, farmers'
representatives and associations, small and medium enterprises' associations and representatives and food processing industry representatives were undertaken.
"On balance, the discussions generally indicated support for the policy subject to the introduction of adequate safeguards. Taking into consideration the concerns expressed during the process of consultation, appropriate safeguards have been incorporated in the policy," he said.
He added as part of the stakeholder consultations, the matter was also taken up with the state governments.
In formulating the policy, the government was conscious of the livelihood concerns of the millions of small retailers, Sharma said.
"Informed studies of global experience have revealed that even in developing economies like China, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, where FDI is permitted up to 100 per cent, local retailers have found innovative ways to
co-exist along with organised retail and are integral to the organised retail chain," Sharma said.
Further, he said that opening up of FDI in multi-brand retail trade is expected to bring in much needed investments, technologies and efficiencies to unlock the true potential of the agriculture value chain.
It is also expected to bring in global best practices and benefit farmers in the long run in terms of quality, price, greater supply chain efficiencies in the agriculture sector
and development of critical backend infrastructure.